Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with six to follow on Saturday at Haydock Park and Newton Abbot. View selections below
This time next week we will be focussing on the Crabbie’s Grand National; Shutthefrontdoor remains the 7/1 favourite and his jockey AP McCoy has said he will retire on the spot if the market leader gives him a second win in the race. BetVictor are betting each way 6 places and Non Runner No Bet on the race from noon today as the countdown begins to the greatest horserace in the world.
Haydock stage a competitive card this afternoon on soft ground and there was plenty of rain forecast for the track on Good Friday. In the feature staying chase King of the Wolds has been raised 8lbs for a facile win in a poor race at Ayr over 3m 1f last time but I’m not convinced he would be suited by a thorough test of stamina and he is reluctantly overlooked on this occasion.
The form of the Venetia Williams yard is a concern but I have thought there was a decent race in Astigos all winter; today could easily be his day but first time out might be the time to catch Sydney Paget (3.15) who is only 4lbs higher than when running away with a valuable handicap over C&D back in November 2013. He has a 12 months absence to overcome but still holds an entry in the National which suggests he has been ready to run for some time.
In the opener Village Vic (1.25) would be a confident selection on better ground but it is interesting that connections have swerved Newton Abbot, where he was also entered at the five-day stage, for a crack at this less valuable but perhaps less competitive prize. The selection caught a tartar at Newbury last time but can race off the same mark; he wouldn’t want a bog but remains at the right end of the handicap.
The Tim Maloney Handicap Chase will take some getting especially if the ground deteriorates; Buachaill Alainn would get the vote on better ground and jockey Sean Bowen needs to ride another winner over fences if he is to be allowed to ride in next weekend’s National where he will ride Paul Nicholls’ Mon Parrain if he gets another chase success.
Preference is for top-weight Woodford County (2.00) who gets on well with his amateur jockey Ciaran Gethings and has been dropped 1lb for finishing third in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter last month. If his jumping holds up, and he is prone to the odd clanger, he looks sure to go close and Incentivise is another to consider for Richard Lee who has saddled two winners from his last three runners.
I am loath to desert Representingceltic who dis us a favour at Kempton three weeks ago but the ground looks to have gone against him and preference is for Comeonginger and Canuspotit (3.45) with marginal preference for the latter who finished third at Kempton on ground quicker than ideal last time. This 2m 6f trip may stretch the stamina of the selection but he is an imposing sort who should be able to carry weight and he gets the each way vote.
At Newton Abbot the drying ground should suit Ulck Du Lin returning from a two month lay-off for Paul Nicholls but Starkie (3.00) was formerly trained by Henry De Bromhead in Ireland and ran a cracker for his new yard returning from a break at Sandown (33/1) last month. If building on that he must go close with Tom O’Brien taking over in the saddle.
The form of And The Man’s second on his penultimate start has been franked by the progressive winner but he has been pulled up on both career starts going right-handed and might not be one to trust. The hope is he sets the market for No Deal (3.30 Carlisle) who is 6lbs higher than when scoring at Ayr back in February for Lucinda Russell.